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tv   The Last Word  MSNBC  December 23, 2013 10:00pm-11:01pm PST

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the grant. he had more advice on how wisconsin can continue to rise up the list. economists called on governor walker to lower the state tkt for the wealthiest this is not rocket surgery. >> indeed, it is not rocket surgery. that does it for us. now it's time for the last word with lawrence o'donnell. >> exactly one shopping day left for christmas. >> want insurance by new year's day? >> new deadline will be tomorrow for the aca. >> the obama administration extends the deadline.
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>> the product is still wanted. >> you can't fix this mess. >> republicans continue to rubber neck on health care. >> spend more money, have less choice. >> republicans want to run on obama care. >> any and all problems with the affordable care act. >> you can't fix this mess. >> you're seeing the real push and pull here. >> the question is. >> how worried are you. >> how high is that error rate. >> and our most frequently asked question, who the government. >> systems are running smoothly on health care.gov. >> there are a lot of good things in obamacare that people like. >> ultimately it will be judged on whether it delivers.
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>> the president is one of the 85% of americans who gets his health insurance through his employer and like previous presidents is privileged to receive health care from the military. the act of the president signing up for insurance coverage through the dc exchange is symbolic since the president's health care will continue to be provided by the military but he was pleased to participate in a plan as a show of support for these marketplaces which are providing quality affordable health care options to more than a million people. the president selected a bronze plan. more than one million people visited healthcare.gov before 5:00 p.m. eastern today.
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because of the high demand that had more than 60,000 people on the home page at the same time the administration extended the enrollment deadline for another day. anticipating high demand and the fact that consumers may be enrolling from multiple time zones we have taken steps to make sure that those who select a plan through tomorrow will get coverage for january 1. joining me now, ezrah klein, an msnbc analyst, dr. zeke emanual, the chair of medical ethics and health policy. served as a special advisor in the obama administration. and michael, a prize winning business columnist for the "los angeles times." i will give a word to the control room as we begin here. i am hearing an echo in my ear of everything that is being said. but we'll get through it.
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ezra klein, one more day and one more delay in the rules for enrollment. >> although not a bad delay. i think it's worth being clear about what this deadline is. i don't think it's such a big deadline in the scheme of things. this is a deadline to have insurance that begins by january 1. you can still have one that begins a couple days after that. you can keep signing up. this is simply a deadline to have it by the beginning of the year. this is important. this is important for folks whose plans cancelled. if they don't sign up by tomorrow night, if somebody gets sick or hurt, you could have huge costs. this is simply the end of their ability after tomorrow night to sign up for it such that it will actually trigger before the first of the year. >> i want to take a look at one
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other change that was made recently and it came up on friday, the president talked about it on friday when he talked to the press. let's listen to that. >> as we are transitioning to a system in which insurance standards are higher, people don't have unpleasant surprises because they thought they had insurance until they hit a limit and next thing you know they owe $100,000 or $300,000 for a hospital visit. as we transition to higher standards, better insurance that we also think about those who get caught in the unintended consequences. obviously the problem was it didn't catch enough people. and, you know, we learned from that and we're trying not to repeat those mistakes. >> talking about how they would
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wave the individual mandate for certain people in this first year based on some of the problems that have occurred in the website and there is chuck todd saying the individual mandate is important. does it have to be enforced? there is a softening of the individual mandate here and yet the argument from the obama administration is that it is still an important element. >> it's certainly an important element. if you can avoid the adverse selection by which only sick people go in and healthy people stay out you do need a mandate for everyone to go in. i find it a little strange what they did because it affects only a few thousand people and yet it creates a precedent of not having the -- at least the allowing an exemption to the individual mandate. lots of individual cases where there is some hardship or something and you don't want to keep making lots of exceptions.
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and will be caught in between but i think making an exception for the individual mandate means next time someone else will ask for an exception and it starts a snowball effect which i don't think is very useful and eventually you will have to say no. there is no going back. voluntary insurance does not work. you have to have a mandate if you want something like no preexisting conditions. >> from the "los angeles times" this is one of the more positive stories is what's been happening in california including the well functioning website and the ease of enrollment here. how about what zeke was just talking about, adverse selection. how about the mix of patients as we now know it to whatever extent we now know it in the
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california mix? >> i think what they have seen is that it started out at about 20 to 22% in that 18 to 34 age range. they have seen signs that younger healthy enrollees come in later in the time line. the young invincibles is what we call them. so we're seeing that. i don't think they're really too unhappy ability the numbers they are getting. >> ezra, zeke, you and others have been saying repeatedly, we have to be patient about when to make judgments about how these numbers are shaping up. looking at the calendar of 2014 and given some of the more important numbers, the overall
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enrollment, the mix of ages and health levels and the premiums that are actually being charged within the system, when on the calendar will we be able to make reasonable judgments about the various numbers? >> the big month for obama care in 2014 is going to be march. that is the final month to sign up before the penalty really hits. if we look at what happened with medicare part d, what we have seen over is over again is that people don't really sign up, particularly young people or younger people who are needed for the stability of the rules of keeping. so the big question there is going to be when that penalty hits do they get enough folks flooding in at the end so they get near their enrollment target, which was 7 million. you can always get 5 million this year and make up the 2 million. do they get a risk pool that is
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healthy enough. with the premiums, insurers will have to set their premiums for 2015 before they know their risk pool for 2014. they will be making an educated guess. it's going to be a guess about who will sign up in 2015. even if they don't get as many young people, if they think they will come in because people are more comfortable, they will have to keep premiums at a lower level to be competitive. so there will be kind of a rolling set of deadlines. >> let's listen to what e. j. said yesterday on meet the press. >> i think there is something crazy when people say the government can't deliver health care. ever heard of medicare? ever heard of medicaid? and there's a mandate to pay taxes for those things. president obama chose to go for
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a model that is a market oriented model that republicans favor of helping people buy private health insurance. that proves to be very complicated. a lot of the people saying repeal obama care saying it's just fine to have big government for people over 65. >> zeke, how would you compare the complexity levels of the affordable care act to medicare? >> first of all it's very important to recognize that medicare came in, there was nothing there. there was no insurance for people who were seniors. you were creating a new program on the basis of no previous existing program. that's always easier. on the other hand, you know, the affordable care act is building on an existing system where 160 million people have private insurance, you have medicare and medicaid. so it's much more complicated. plus, the affordable care act is trying to do many more things than medicare ever tried. it's trying to reduce costs, improve quality, change the work
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force, it's got menu labeling so that we reduce the obesity rate in this country. it's doing many, many more things than medicare ever did. i would say outside of the exchange, not everything is working perfectly but we're certainly seeing changes in the health system in a positive direction. a lot of focus on reducing hospital infections. a lot of focus on reducing re-admission rates, a lot of effort to control costs. we recently did a poll with the biggest hospitals in the country. two-thirds of them thought that the health care system would be better by 2020 because of the affordable care act. almost all of them said that their hospital's quality is going to improve, their cost control will improve over the next decade. people in the trenches really see that this act is having a transformative effect. it's going to take a decade to play out.
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we're an impatient society but when we're changing the economy of france, you do have to put it into perspective. it isn't going to happen in one or two years. >> michael, you did some of the earlier reporting on people who were complaints saying it is horrible for me, the affordable care act. and you said they had not done the consumer home work to discover if you don't use this policy this is what their option is. it seems that those stories are kind of muting or dying down as apparently consumer information improves. >> i think that's true. i think the needle has passed that stage and we are hearing more and more about people who are finding that they are delighted with the coverage that they have opportunities to get. they are delighted with the price and delighted just to be able to get coverage and not have the fear if they had a preexisting condition they would be out of luck. i think we are still seeing that
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there is a lot of confusion out there. there is confusion in the press, confusion among experts and still a lot of confusion among the public and that, as zeke just said, that's going to take a while to play out. it's a learning process. people have learned about health insurance, some of them for the very first time in their lives. they didn't know even at a higher premium means lower deductible. this is something that a lot of us knew but it's moved from the abstract into the specific. and that's a big change. >> i got to say the anecdotal here in california that i have been picking up has been pretty positive. ezrah klein, zeke emanual and michael, thank you all for joining me tonight. >> thank you. >> thank you. >> thank you. >> coming up, "duck dynasty" madness. phil robertson claimed that people were happy in the 1940s, 1950s, 1960s.
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we will discuss what fill robertson doesn't seem to remember or want you to know about the louisiana he grew up in. and 1.3 million americans will lose their incomes next week when unemployment insurance expires for them. and later a senator calls for a federal investigation of the lane closures on the george washington bridge that might -- might have been part of a chris christie political revenge operation. [ male announcer ] this is george.
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>> the federal judge who ruled utah's ban on same sex marriage refused to stay his own ruling while that case is on appeal. hundreds of couples lined up this morning to get marriage licenses in utah. today in ohio, a federal judge
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ruled that ohio must recognize same sex marriages on death certificates. that case was brought by jim, whose spouse, john arthur, died in october of this year. he appeared on this program to discuss his case. up next, the effect of 1.3 million people losing their income. unemployment insurance.
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>> we have an emergency here right now. the check is not in the mail. we want to make sure that it is. the fact is that people want to work. they want to work below their skill sets, their education and the rest. in the meantime, they need this
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unemployment check to keep things going. we are not giving up on this fight. >> that was nancy pelosi today during a press conference call on extending unemployment insurance. in five days, 1.3 million americans will lose their unemployment insurance payments after congress failed to extend that benefit into the new year. average of $300 a week to millions of americans. before leaving for the holiday recess, harry reed promised to hold a vote on a temporary extension as soon as the senator returns. on friday, president obama said this. >> because congress didn't act, more than one million constituents will lose their income at christmas time leaving a lot of job seekers without any source of income at all.
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i think we're a better country than that. when congress comes back to work, their first order of business should be making this right. i know a bipartisan group is working on a three month extension of this insurance. they should pass it and i will sign it right away. >> joining me now is a senior fellow who served as joe biden's chief economist from 2009 to 2011. and also professor from columbia university. i want to take the focus off of the altruistic case for unemployment benefits and talk about the economic case for these payments and why they are in our own self-interest, those of us who are employed and the interest of the overall economy. >> the easiest way to wrap your
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head around that is to recognize that unemployed people don't have an income from their job. so when they get unemployment compensation, they spend the money and that leads to other economic activity down the line. they go to stores, they buy stuff and inventory needs restocked and there's another job there. the aggressively non-partisan office says if we allow this to occur it will subtract between two and four tenths of growth from gdp and that amounts to about 250,000 jobs. you're right. there's a strong macro economic reason to keep the benefits going as long as the job market remains weak. >> i want us to listen to something extraordinary that rand paul said about this on friday. i think at a lot of holiday dinner tables in the next couple
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of weeks, there will be a rand paul at the table somewhere saying this kind of thing and i think the dinner mates have to be prepared. let's listen to this. >> not putting any fault on those who are unemployed but on those who are hiring people and you say who would you rather hire? someone who has been out of work two months or two years and who will you pick? it's always the two months. i mean it's a disservice. i am worried about the workers. not that they become bad people, but the longer they are unemployed the less likely they are to ever get a job again. >> your whacky uncle says i'm worried about the unemployed who are unemployed for a long time so i want to cut off their benefits because i'm worried about them. >> i do have a whacky uncle but he wouldn't say that. this is an idea that goes back hundreds of year. the poor are poor and the
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jobless are jobless and undeserving of our support. how amazing to have that point of view at this moment of the year when republicans are claiming a war on christmas ever year. this is quite the christmas spirit we're going to say to 1.3 americans who have been looking for work, forget you, we don't care, it's probably good for you anyway. we know after this support goes away, only one out of four unemployed workers will be receiving any kind of government support. so we have become such a cruel and mean country in this moment where we're supposed to be wrapping our arms around everybody in the holiday spirit, it's such a shame. >> rand paul is just the perfect poser of the ridiculous points that have grown into our politics about unemployment payments. i want to have you respond to
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one more. does it make sense for our country to borrow money from china to give it to the unemployed in america? why do we need more unemployment insurance because the economy is stagnant. he says that we are making unemployment payments because the economy is stagnant. yes, that is exactly why. >> that's right. >> does it make any sense to borrow money from china to give it to the unemployed in america? >> it certainly makes sense, especially at a time like this, when borrowing costs are very low. it's funny. these guys if they go on long enough they say something that's true and correctly pointed out that we have a weakness in the job market. the unemployment rate is coming down but it's coming down too
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slowly. it's particularly tough for people who live in areas where there has not been much job creation. so yeah, historically, ever since canes, we have recognized that there are times when temporarily you need to borrow as the economy gets going again, that's when you bring your budget deficit down. the fact that we have gotten it backwards has really hurt us. >> you have studied our collective intelligence as a society and there seems to have been a decline in this particular area where there was once a much larger agreement and a much larger bipartisan agreement about how unemployment payments function especially in a recession. automatic stabilizers was the accepted term for what they are. an unmonumental term but both sides saw it that way for a long
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time. >> unemployment insurance was always considered separate from other welfare programs. so food stamps or cash payments, tanif as we know it now. and now they have been lumped together. even though people have lost their jobs through no fault of their own, that means to most folks on the right that they are the undeserving poor. that somehow they are not trying hard enough and if we reward their laziness, that is bad for the company. jared is right in terms of the economic argument. it's bad for all of us for this to be happening to 1.3 million people. >> thank you both for joining me tonight. >> thank you. >> up next, why the "duck dynasty" guy who is obsessed with gay sex is a phoney bible quoter. why is he lying about the experience of black people in
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louisiana when he was growing up there in the 1950s and 1960s. that's next. but at least i can help keep their underwear clean.
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>> the "duck dynasty" madness continues. >> this week we learned you can judge a book by its cover. >> robertson despite a suspension from the a&e reality program is defending his remarks saying i will not back up from my path.
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>> my idea of happiness is killing things. >> i will not back up from my path. >> boom bow boom bow bow. >> "duck dynasty" merchandise is back on the shelf at cracker barrel. >> cracker barrel cracked. >> backtracked after pulling the popular merchandise last week in the wake of controversial remarks about gays and blacks by phil robertson. >> we think he's got a right to say what he wants. >> if you are a member of the christian right that means anything you say has a ready defense. >> yes, he had the right to say what he believes. >> i will not back up from my path. >> but the company that signs his paycheck had the right not to subsidize it. >> it's the aw shucks defense. if you're a christian, and awe shucks you just don't know any better it's totally acceptable
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on the right for you to be a big got. they are even running a "duck dynasty" marathon over the holidays for the kids. >> "duck dynasty" star got in trouble for talking about vaginas and anuses. it seems like to me a vagina would be more desirable to me than a man's anus. i'm just thinking there's more there. she's got more to offer. come on dudes. sin? it's not logical my man. it's just not logical. phil robertson is defending those comments as being the word of god. he is not exactly quoting the bible but his view of gay sex does have biblical support. the bible is actually to the right of fill robertson on this one. the bible says that the penalty for homosexual sex is death.
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but phil robertson does not believe that the penalty should be death. phil robertson ignores a lot in the bible and he has no way of explaining why he believes in some of the teachings of the bible and disbelieves many others. 45% of americans agree with phil robertson and the bible that gay sex is a sin, but virtually none of them agree that the penalty for gay sex should be death. and none of them agree with the bible that prostitutes should be burned at the stake and none of them agree with the bible that the penalty for adultery should be death. most bible quoters do not believe there should be any penalty for adultery since most bible quoters like most people at some point commit adultery. there are no bible quoters left who agree with the bible that the correct penalty for not observing the sabbath is death.
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bible quoting long ago became a game, a very selective game. the bible is not bothered more by gay sex than it is by not observing the sabbath, but phoney bible quoters like phil robertson are. we don't know why he is more on obsessed with gay sex than observing the sabbath. phil robertson agrees with 45% of america and a big majority of the "duck dynasty" audience that gay sex is sinful. what should have surprised everyone is that a 67-year-old man who grew up in louisiana could say that when he was a kid, he -- when he was a teenager and a young man that he never saw a black person who wasn't happy. he told "gq" magazine that he never saw any mistreatment.
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i'm with the blacks because we're white trash. they're singing and happy. i never heard one of them, one black person say i tell you what, these doggoned white people. not a word. pre entitlement, no welfare. they were godly, they were happy. no one was singing the blues. joining me now is author and pulitzer prize winner. her book is now available in paper back. phil robertson will return to the new "duck dynasty" episodes in january. in your book, you tell the story of a family growing up in monroe, louisiana, very close to
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the "duck dynasty" homes that had a very different experience from what phil robertson says he saw in that part of louisiana. >> yes, well during the time of the of this period in our country's history, mid 20th sentry, much of the south, most of the south was living under a cast system in which every single thing that a person could do was essentially determined by what they looked like. they were living in a cast system, this artificial hierarchy where it was against the law to do things like playing checkers with one another across races. there were actually separate there were separate elevators. there were separate tickets, ticket counters in which to buy your movie tickets.
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there was a swiveling ticket taker who would go from one window to the next in order to make sure that people could buy their tickets because even the lines were segregated. >> in your book we learn that the great nba star, bill russel, grew up in monroe -- or started his life in monroe, louisiana, and one of the stories that is told in your book is the time that his father went to a gas station to get gas, just to get gas, and the gas station operator pulled out a shotgun and put the shotgun to his head. that is something that i guess phil robertson did not see. he said he never saw anything like that with his own eyes. >> that is is a perfect example because it speaks to our relationship between these two groups. there is a cast system in which people at the lower end of the cast system were not permitted to do such basic things to be able to look a white person in the eye.
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they were not permitted to shake the hand of a person of a different race. so in this particular case in bill russel's father's case, he was actually going to get gas and the culture of that world was that white people were to be served first and so bill russel's father had been waiting to be served and waiting to be served and it had taken so long because people were coming in and cutting in front of him, which was the standard, the culture. he sought to back out and as he was backing out, the station owner held a gun to his head and said you will leave when i say you can leave. they fled that region of louisiana and went to california -- they went to oakland. if that family had not done that, we might not have even known bill russel's name. >> bill russel has said he doesn't believe he would have lived if he stayed in that part
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of the country, that he and his father probably would have been killed down there because they would have struggled so hard to fit into that system. and quickly before we go, there's a very sharp difference between the reaction to the sex talk, the gay sex talk, and the racial history talk that this guy used and i have been struck by the lack of emphasis on this false racial history that he's telling. >> i'm hoping that this is a teaching moment for our country. clearly not enough people in our country are truly aware of how we got to where we are of how the world was so very different within the life span of many, many adult americans alive today. this cast system that i described to you which actually was codified in louisiana with plessy versus ferguson didn't end until the 1970s, so this is within the life span of people
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alive today. i would hope that we could learn from that. that we could see that history is still with us. >> isabelle, your book has taught us that again. >> thank you. >> coming up, chris christie's political traffic jam. there is is a call for a federal investigation over whether chris christie's cronies broke the law. [ cheeping ] [ male announcer ] you hear that?
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all we do is go out to dinner. that's it? i mean, he picks up the tab every time, which is great...what? he's using you. he probably has a citi thankyou card and gets 2x the points at restaurants. so he's just racking up points with me. some people... ugh! no, i've got it. the citi thankyou preferred card. now earn 2x the points on dining out and entertainment, with no annual fee.to apply, go to citi.com/thankyoucards
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that's coming up in just a couple of seconds, maybe. but first we're going to update you on the latest numbers for the kind fund kids in need of desks. i'm going to separate this out first with our total for desks that we have raised since last week, since we last talked about this. that's $146,531 for desks. for scholarships for girls since last thursday we have raised $120,367 and we already broke the suspense of that total by showing you that. let's put that total back up again. this is the total we have raised in the years we have been doing this here on the program. it's now $6,531,512. this began as a program for kids in need of desks in african schools. that is largely what it remains but we have added to it a
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scholarship program for girls to go to high school because they charge tuition for girls in malaui. i want to read to you some of your reactions online, some of your facebook posts. joseph wrote kinda broke. wish i could do more but you are doing the right thing. i know people are broke. i know that people are losing unemployment insurance and i know not everyone can contribute to this and i don't expect people to try for whom it will be a great strain. let's leave it to those of us who can help without it being a great strain. nancy said we have been doing this every year. we have now asked our young grandchildren, 23, 16, and 11, to buy us desks in lieu of personal gifts to us. i think by the time you have grandkids that age you have most of your material wishes filled
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and you can ask for desks. and also, my husband and i are sponsoring a year in high school for a young woman. that's $177 to keep a girl in school including room and board in the rural parts of the country which is where we're concentrating that program. nancy said great idea for remembering my son. on twitter, monica tweeted in celebration of my dad's last radiation, we are donating to the k.i.n.d. fund against. andrea limon, kind do nation, your politics be damned be with your hard afound agreement. i donated for a desk and a bench. i love that. i love that someone who disagrees with my politics is happy to contribute to this fund. it really excites me and i
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really appreciate that. the summer camp i work at raised $4,300 this summer. our fund raising -- during our fund raising week, happy to help such a great cause. and now finally back to the beatles. this tweet really popped when i saw this. brian ray tweeted thanking lawrence for the perfect gift idea for my boss, paul mccartney, three desks via k.i.n.d. fund in their name. i have to tell you that i had the great pleasure at the "saturday night live" party last season of meeting paul mccartney. i didn't try to get in his way but he sought me out to talk about watching this program and actually how much he enjoyed it during the presidential election year. you can imagine what a thrill
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that was for me to meet one of my childhood heroes like that. but nothing has thrilled me more than brian ray giving paul mccartnen these desks for christmas. you can specify that the gift notice be sent to whomever you choose as a christmas or holiday or birthday gift. you can do it any time of year. that is is a fabulous thing that think that these desks are being sent as a gift to paul mccartney. we will have more updates on this later in the week. we will be back with more news on it. thank you all very much for your constant support for this program of the kind fund is what i mean, not this television program. that's not as important as you supporting the kind fund which you have been doing since the day i announced it on this program. thank you very much. it just hits you! that nasty odor coming from your washer.
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>> a political traffic jam in new jersey.
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exxonmobil uses advanced visualization and drilling technologies to produce natural gas... powering our lives... while reducing emissions by up to 60%. energy lives here. ♪ >> i know you guys are obsessed with this. i'm not. it's not that big a deal. just because press runs around and writes about it both here and nationally, i know why that is and so do you. let's not pretend it's because of the gravity of the issue. it's because i'm a national figure and anything like this will be written about now. >> and now democrats want to make a federal case out of the
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mysterious lane closures on the bridge connecting new jersey to new york. the secretary of transportation has been asked to investigate the lane closures and the chairman of new jersey's transportation committee will ask for reauthorization of the committee subpoena power so that his power can continue into next year. joining me now is hunter walker, national affairs reporter and co-host of msnbc's, the cycle. which of these investigations should chris christie be worried about? >> i think in the immediate, the local investigation is certainly gaining more steam. today was the deadline for everyone to respond to their subpoenas and christie's two top appointees have lawyered up and initially asked for extensions. one of them got in his documents
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in the subpoena right at 8:00 after the chair of the committee. >> there is nothing here except a couple of guys having to lose their jobs, get lawyers, criminal defense lawyers and the united states senate getting into the investigation along with the new jersey assembly. >> we don't have probative evidence yet that the governor knowingly did something wrong. what we do have is a bunch of stuff that they have said including the governor that makes no sense. the very old cliche that the cover up can be worse than the crime may not be true here if the evidence leads to a type of politically corrupt meddling that interfered with traffic or public safety. those are big issues. but even if it doesn't go that far if they continue to be basically proven to have a story
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that makes no sense or be lying about it it's going to be a real problem for governor christie. >> one columnist said that the problem in national terms is people are convinced they need to worry about christie putting forces in power who base policy decisions on politics then his road through the republican primaries will be difficult. hunter walker, that is the image he has to fear in this. >> the dnc has targeted this scandal with a web video sort of hitting christie for it. the reason they have done so, sources there tell me his national brand is so based on being this straight shooting bipartisan figure. and you know, his lies that are starting to emerge during this, you know, response here really really knocks that out of the park. you have someone who is posed to be there.
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>> thank you both for joining me tonight. >> thank you. d-day for the aca. let's play "hardball." ♪ good evening. i'm michael smerconish in for chris matthews. leading off tonight, it's deadline time for the affordable care act. tonight at midnight was supposed to be the last moment to sign up for health care coverage on the federal exchanges in order to get it by january 1st. this afternoon, however, a slight delay was announced by the white house. the new deadline will be tomorrow at midnight. the white house said the move was to accommodate high demand. on friday the president announced the number of people signing up for health care plans has dramatically ticup

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